Summary: Sermon number 24 in our series on the Book of Genesis. In this sermon we examine the developing faith of Abraham.
Faith in the Famine (Genesis part 24)
Text: Genesis 12:10 – 20
By: Ken McKinley
The very first sentence of our text tells us that while Abram was living in the Promised Land, a famine struck and he moved to Egypt to escape it. Last week we read that Abram was 75 years old when he received the call from God to leave his father’s house and go to Canaan. And now; here he is – having to move yet again. Moving isn’t a fun thing to do, especially if you have a lot of stuff, and it becomes an absolute dreadful thing if you have a lot of stuff that you don’t ever use, a collection of useless items that you’ve accumulated over the years… then moving becomes a nightmare. But as bad as moving can be, put yourself in Abram’s shoes for a minute. First he had to move away from Ur to Haran, then he had to move away from Haran to Canaan, now he’s got to move again. Then when you couple that with Sarah’s barrenness, the loss of his father, and a famine, then what you’ve got is a guy who might be questioning whether or not he actually heard God. You’ve got a guy who might be saying to himself, “Now God told me that he was going to make me the father of many nations, and that He was going to give me this land as an inheritance to my children and grandchildren, and that I’m supposed to be blessed and be a blessing… but here I am living in tents, and I know that it’s God who controls the weather… so why exactly is this famine happening?” If you look at with your natural understanding it might not seem like God’s keeping His end of the bargain; but what this is – is a test for Abraham. He’s going to be tested in those three areas… in those three promises from God – that Abraham will be a father, that he will receive a land, and that he will be a blessing to the nations. And these tests aren’t just for a day or two. Some of them last a long, long time. Abraham’s wife, Sarah will be 90 years old before she ever bears him a son. Then there’s the promise of the land. He lives most of his life in a tent, moving from place to place, not settling anywhere in particular. When Sarah dies and Abraham is 127 years old, he had to buy a plot of land, because even at that time he didn’t own any land. He has to live in Egypt for a while as well. In-fact, the book of Hebrews chapter 11 tells us that Abraham died without the promise of a land being fulfilled… at least a physical land. We learn from Hebrews and Romans and Galatians that God’s promises to Abraham had a spiritual meaning behind them, but Abraham didn’t fully understand all of that at the time. And then if you look at the promise of Abraham being a blessing… in the physical world, you might read about Abraham and go, “Woah, this guy isn’t a blessing to the people he meets. He causes trouble to everyone he meets.” We see that in our text. Later on when Abraham intercedes for Sodom and Gomorrah judgment falls on them. Abraham’s neighbors are going to steal his water wells later on, and his nephew is going to be kidnapped, which causes Abraham to go to war with his neighbors.
What we’re going to see in the life of Abraham is that he’s going to be tested in the areas of God’s promises to him. But what we can learn here is that our trials are God’s opportunities.
James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trails, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
And Hebrews 6:12 tells us that it’s through faith and patience that we inherit the promises. True faith is always a patient faith.
1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Trials have a purpose. They’re like polishing stones that reveal what’s underneath, and for some they reveal long lost treasures, while for others they reveal nothing but junk. And sometimes they reveal another layer that has to be removed before you can get to the real treasure. And that’s kind of what we see with Abraham; look at verses 11-13 (Read).